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Rice News_30Nov2020.docx

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Ghotki’s story of sugar and cotton
Mohammad Hussain Khan
x 30 Nov 2020
The Ghotki area is witnessing a major shift in the ...
‘Our road infrastructure has been destroyed due to the movement of heavy vehicles during sugar
cane season. Our family use...
Rich in soil fertility Ghotki witnesses cultivation of fruits like mangoes, dates, lemon,
strawberry, banana, guava, water...
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Rice News_30Nov2020.docx

  1. 1. Ghotki’s story of sugar and cotton Mohammad Hussain Khan x 30 Nov 2020 The Ghotki area is witnessing a major shift in the agriculture sector over the years to set new rural economic trends.— Photo courtesy: CABI/File The Ghotki district has lately been in the limelight for political reasons. The powerful Mahar family from the area has seen a split for the first time in history after claims of stakes by first cousins to Mahars’ tribal throne. Until recently, Mahar brothers have been taking consensus decisions when it comes to different political choices but then Sardar Mohammad Bux Mahar, a young tribal chieftain, asserted himself only to deviate from his first cousins’ political decision of joining the establishment- backed anti-Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) alliance in 2018 general elections. He then also went on to don the mantle of sardari. What is perhaps going unnoticed is the fact that the Ghotki area is also witnessing a major shift in the agriculture sector over the years to set new rural economic trends. This northern district has historically been a top cotton zone after the southern Sindh district of Sanghar but this seems to be in the past now. With five functional sugar mills, this left bank district it is a major sugarcane producing zone — something that was never seen in the past. This doesn’t mean cotton cultivation has come to an end. Over the last few years, its acreage has slightly increased when compared with sugarcane — the area’s new crop — whose acreage increased phenomenally.
  2. 2. ‘Our road infrastructure has been destroyed due to the movement of heavy vehicles during sugar cane season. Our family used to grow cotton on 90 per cent of the land but with growth in the sugar industry, the white lint’s space has shrunk to 20pc’ “Our road infrastructure has been destroyed due to the movement of heavy vehicles during sugar cane season. Our family used to grow cotton on 90 per cent of the land but with growth in the sugar industry, cotton’s space has shrunk to 20pc and while sugar cane occupies 70pc. We must discourage sugar cane,” says Sindh former irrigation minister from Ghotki Jam Saifullah Dharejo. In the last decade, the area under cotton stood at 33,993ha (2010-11) and sugarcane at 2,452ha in Ghotki district, located in zone-B agro-ecological of Sindh. A district profiling report on Ghotki, compiled by Hina Shahid of European Union Success, puts cotton acreage share of Ghotki at 15.3pc out of Sindh’s 636,636ha in FY2016-17 and sugarcane’s at 15.7pc out of Sindh’s acreage of 320,501ha in the same year. This area increased from a marginal 2,452ha in 2010-11 to 58,774ha in 2019-20. Cotton’s area stood at 97,204ha in 2019-20. Sugarcane’s percentage-wise acreage was just 3.4pc (6,511ha in 2011-12) but it is 20.5pc (58,774 in 2019-20) out of total acreage of 286,090ha in 2019-20. Sindh, Pakistan’s second-largest cotton producer to date, has been unable to achieve its cotton sowing target since 2008-09. From 4.2 million bales production in 2009-10, the province has been unable to come even close to the figure since then. The reasons could be many. “If we can’t control pests that affect cotton, the crop will be wiped out. Per acre productivity has dropped significantly while the recovery in sugar cane is impressive [for millers]. Farmers have started growing maize like they do in Punjab. I am not able to run a ginning factory,” comments another Dharejo family member. Ghotki is also home to political families like Dharejos, Dahars, Loonds, Chachars, Pitafis, Ghottos, Shars and Bozdars. But primarily Mahars, Dharejos, Loonds and Dharejos matter on the political chessboard and their allies also keep switching loyalties considering political options. “Mahars host Arabs in hunting season which reflects their clout,” says a resident. Growth in the sugar industry in Ghotki, although unusual, was witnessed only in a span of seven years (2007-2014) and to quote Pakistan’s leading economist Dr Kaiser Bengali “a new economy is created only to benefit few for political reasons that were obvious”. He believes sugarcane cultivation should be restricted to a couple of districts of the coastal region. “Government each time needs to pay a subsidy from the public purse to allow sugar’s export. Imported sugar might be inexpensive for consumers,” he says. Influential JKT (Jehangir Khan Tareen) had set-up the first sugar factory (JDW) in Ghotki in 2007-08 whilst he was the federal industries and production minster under the Musharraf-led government that issued permits without analysing pros and cons. Mahars didn’t lag behind and soon came up with SGM (Sir Ghulam Mohammad Mahar) sugar factory two years later in 2009- 10. Tareen set-up another unit then. The fifth (Gulf) and last unit was set up in 2014-15. And that’s when the dynamics of Ghotki’s agriculture started changing altogether. Luckily, however, these units have their in-house treatment plants now, according to the Sukkur’s region Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official Ajmal Tunio. ‘Government each time needs to pay a subsidy from the public purse to allow sugar’s export. Imported sugar might be inexpensive for consumers’ “We are long term players,” Tareen had told this writer in May 2016 while discussing sugarcane cultivation in Ghotki. “We engage cultivators in a working relationship. When we started the first mill, sucrose recovery was 8pc. Now it is 11pc,” he had said.
  3. 3. Rich in soil fertility Ghotki witnesses cultivation of fruits like mangoes, dates, lemon, strawberry, banana, guava, watermelon, muskmelon and falsa. Among winter and summer vegetables, turnip, carrot, spinach, tomato, okra, tinda gourd, bitter gourd are grown. Of Sindh’s fruits acreage of 9,950ha, Ghotki’s share is 90ha in Rabi. Of Kharif’s cultivation of fruits on 144,400ha, the area’s share is 722ha. Among fruits, mango is grown on 231ha followed by 220ha of bananas and dates are grown on 128acres out of 722ha. Fed by the perennial Ghotki feeder (canal) of Guddu Barrage — the first barrage over river Indus in Sindh — the district has around 995,447ha of cultivated area with somewhat better inflows. It has 1.2m gross cultivable area that is managed by the Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority (Sida), a water and drainage regulatory body. The body works parallel to the Sindh irrigation department to run half of Sindh’s colonial-era irrigation network. The Ghotki Feeder Area Water Board (AWB) — a representative body of farmers — is the third AWB in Sindh since 2003 insofar as a participatory approach is concerned that the Sindh Water Management Ordinance aims to promote through this regulatory body. Around two decades down the road, Sida still struggles to achieve the goals. The 79.40 miles (127km) long Ghotki Feeder (canal) has a designed capacity of 9,561ha and command area touches Rohri in Sukkur. The AWB recovers water and revenue charges from the farm and commercial sectors. It is trying to improve recovery. With resource constraints hitting Sida and feudalism calling the shots in the system, AWB fails to have an impressive recovery. In the first nine years after its formation in 2003, AWB had recovered Rs70m. From 2003 to 2020 it recovered Rs450m under water charges inclusive of Rs88m from the farm sector. This Rs88m is 21pc of the targeted recovery of Rs421m against the cultivated area. Rest of Rs362m came from commercial users. “The missed revenue target is attributable to the shortage of staff in the AWB. Arrears against commercial consumers are clear as compared to the agriculture sector where they are accumulating thanks to the influence of many. “We can’t stop their water. They mount pressure as they sit in assemblies,” confides one Sida official. Rice cultivation is banned on the left bank areas fed by Sukkur and Guddu barrages (barring Kotri barrage) under the West Pakistan Rice (Restriction on Cultivation) Ordinance 1959. The ban is violated at will by powerful paddy growers and Ghotki being a left bank district is no exception. “Paddy is cultivated and we are not required to reflect it in our crop statistics to avoid embarrassment for the government. It goes unchecked. The ban was enforced and paddy fields were destroyed only for a brief period,” says an agriculture official. Besides Ghotki Feeder (canal), the Water & Power Development Authority has completed the first phase of Rainee canal, a flood channel on Guddu. The Sindh government is not ready to take over this canal even after its completion. Its phase-II is planned to provide water to Tharparkar through Thar canal. The approval of its revised project cost (PC-I) of phase first depends on the Economic Coordination Committee of the National Economic Council. In addition to the substantial contribution in agriculture, Ghotki has natural resource gas with two major fields of Maari and Qadipur working there. Given Sindh’s immense contribution towards gas production (72pc of Pakistan’s total gas production) Dr Kaiser likens Sindh as the Opec (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) of Pakistan. “We need to have a better infrastructure or we should at least improve the water supply/quality to overcome avoidable expenditures of the common man. While Ghotki is rich in resources and agriculture, poverty is evident there,” emphasises Dr Kaiser. Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, November 30th, 2020
  4. 4. https://www.dawn.com/news/1593042 Munya orders installation of rice milling machines Crop By Ignatius Odanga | November 30th 2020 at 08:45:00 GMT +0300 Agriculture CS Peter Munya (right) with Bunyala Rice Farmers Cooperative society chairman Robert Musolo in Budalang'i on November 27, 2020. [Ignatius Odanga/Standard] Farmers under Bunyala Rice Farmers Cooperative Society have welcomed the gesture by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya to have rice milling machines installed in the region. Through their chairman Robart Musolo, the over 600 farmers said implementation of the directive will prevent them from recording post-harvest losses like has been the case in the past. Last Friday, the CS ordered for immediate installation of the machines when he handed over pre- planters and combine harvesters to the society. “For years we have requested that a rice milling machine be installed in our region so that we can make profit from our produce,” said Musolo. “It is good the government has heard our concerns; soon we shall process and sell our rice from within,” he added. The CS said the government was not planning to import rice from Pakistan to bridge the deficit of 986,000 metric tonnes annually, but will instead rely on local farmers. He said rice will be processed locally and sold to the Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC). “The machines should be installed so that processing of rice is done locally and purchased by KNTC, which will later sell to government institutions,” said Munya. Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated on the latest developments and special offers! Last year, the Government of Venezuela donated a rice milling machine to farmers in Budalang’i. The County Executive for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Moses Osia appealed for assistance to have the machine installed. “We are requesting the national government to provide us with engineers to install the rice milling machine,” said Osia. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:s_gIYNSDPkMJ:https://www.standard media.co.ke/farmkenya/article/2001395669/munya-orders-installation-of-rice-milling- machines+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=pk Globe acquires cloud-based services provider Globe Telecom Inc., one of the largest cloud users in the country, officially completed its acquisition of leading cloud managed services provider, Cascadeo. “Despite facing many challenges this year, we were determined to be recognized as the country’s chief cloud collaborator,” declared Peter Maquera, Senior Vice President for Globe Business.
  5. 5. “The pandemic only emphasized how critical digitalization is, ” he added. “In order to survive, companies have to respond with transformed ways of thinking and operating.” “This propelled us to go all-in on our partnership with Cascadeo so we can prepare companies for a future that embraces the Cloud.” Globe Business, the enterprise arm of Globe Telecom, has been working closely with Cascadeo to help enterprises remain competitive in the evolving digital landscape. Aside from providing expertise in cloud-based products, Cascadeo also supports Globe through cloud managed services, enabling companies to leverage the Cloud’s agility, security, and scalability. “During the quarantine, many companies had a difficult time adapting to the sudden shift to online services due to their reliance on outdated IT infrastructure and operations,” noted Jared Reimer, Founder of Cascadeo. “Our partnership with Globe allows us to showcase that the Cloud is more than just a virtual storage space. It’s an enabler of innovation, maintaining system uptime, and scaling digital resources to meet demand in whatever capacity.” Cascadeo, which continues to expand in North America, is a Premier Partner of Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. It is also an expert in Microsoft Azure, with Cloud Centers of Excellence in both the US and the Philippines. With the completion of its Cascadeo investment, Globe now has the highest level of professional and managed service capabilities for multi-cloud operations. This guarantees businesses that Globe holds extensive experience and knowledge in designing, architecting, building, migrating, and managing workloads and applications on the Cloud. https://mb.com.ph/2020/11/29/globe-acquires-cloud-based-services-provider/amp/ Italian envoy stresses to enhance Pak-Italy bilateral trade Sun, 29 Nov 2020, 5:16 PM ISLAMABAD, Nov 29 (APP): The Italian Ambassador to Pakistan, Andreas Ferrarese on Sunday stressed to enhance the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Italy to its full potential from current $1.7 billion to $5 billion annually. Both sides interested to achieve the trade balance as currently Pakistan has a trade surplus with Italy in FY 2019-20, the Ambassador said this in an exclusive interview to APP here. Replying to question, he said that Pakistan exports to Italy were $731million during 2019-20, Pakistan major exports to Italy include leather, rice, ethanol, textiles articles, sets, worn clothing, cotton ,apparel, crocheted, cereals, raw hides and skins, leather, beverages, spirits and vinegar, plastics, footwear and gaiters. The Ambassador said that in FY 2019-20, Pakistan import from Italy at $521 million including ships, boats, and other floating structures ,machinery, pharmaceutical product, aircraft, spacecraft, electrical, electronic equipment, Organic chemicals, Iron and steel, miscellaneous chemical products, Optical, photo, technical and medical apparatus.
  6. 6. He said that dairy and livestock, olives and olive products, plastics, processed food and construction sector were the areas where Italy could extend its cooperation with Pakistan. While replaying about the expectation of Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between Pakistan and Italy, he said that Italy was in European Union (EU) Countries and “we are fully supporting Pakistan in Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP+) status in every review.” He informed that Pakistan has a share of 10 percent of trade with Italy in the whole contribution with EU countries and in future both sides would extend more cooperation in trade and economy. The Ambassador informed that Italy has become the largest contributor from the EU in home remittances to Pakistan. He said that in FY 2019-20, it registered 29% growth which is far higher than our national growth in remittances. He said that Pakistani workers contributed $142.9 million in home remittances in FY 2019-20, and $111 million in 2018-19. He said that Italy was the 8th largest economy of the world with $ 2 trillion Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Italy has the 3rd largest economy in the European Union (EU) after Germany and France and Pakistan`s 9th top export destination, he added. The Ambassador Ferrarese said that a new economic mission would also be established in Pakistan to enhance trade and economic connectivity with Pakistan. He said that “I want to open up a cultural centre, maybe in one part of the new embassy, and promote Italian cuisine, art, paintings, music so that the Pakistanis can know more about Italy.” Replying to a question, he said that his predecessor, Stefano Pontecorvo, was a seasoned economist and he tried his best to enhance the overall volume of bilateral trade. He said that COVID-19 wasted our efforts and then he had to start afresh to give a quantum jump to the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Italy. Ambassador Ferrarese also stressed the need for the importance of cultural connectivity to promote trade and said that he would encourage exchange of students to further strengthen bilateral relations. https://www.app.com.pk/business/italian-envoy-stresses-to-enhance-pak-italy-bilateral-trade/ FM apprises Niger PM about latest situation in IIOJ&K 28 November,2020 08:33 pm
  7. 7. FM apprises Niger PM about latest situation in IIOJ&K NIAMEY (Dunya News) - Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called on Prime Minister of Niger Brigi Rafini in Niamey and discussed bilateral relations. The Foreign Minister apprised the Niger Prime Minister about the latest situation in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan will extend cooperation to Niger in different sectors including agriculture, irrigation and infrastructure development. He also announced scholarship for two hundred students of Niger. Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan will also send rice, blankets, tents and medicines for the flood victims of Niger. The Prime Minister of Niger thanked Pakistan s cooperation in different sectors. https://dunyanews.tv/en/Pakistan/575511-FM-apprises-Niger-PM-about-latest-situation-in- IIOJ&K [BC-MCT-BUSINESS-BJT]  Nov 27, 2020 Updated Nov 27, 2020 (TNS) Tribune News Service Business Budget for Friday, November 27, 2020 ^< Updated at 6 p.m. EST (2300 UTC) Adds INDIA-PAKISTAN-RICE:LA, RETAIL-BLACK-FRIDAY:LA, AUTO-TESLA- NHTSA:BLO, CARGILL-WELLNESS:MS, DELTA-CANCELLATIONS:AT
  8. 8. This budget is now available at www.TribuneNewsService.com, with direct links to stories and art. See details at the end of the budget. ^TOP STORIES< ^Hospitals race to set vaccine priorities for health care workers< ^CORONAVIRUS-VACCINE-HEALTHWORKERS:BLO—<Large hospital systems are grappling with how best to decide which health care workers will be vaccinated first for COVIC- 19, a daunting task when it’s unclear which shots they’ll get, how many and when they’ll arrive. The first COVIC-19 vaccine could be cleared for U.S. use as soon as next month, with Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s candidate already under review and Moderna Inc.’s shot not far behind. Federal officials, meanwhile, have signaled that health care workers and older Americans at high risk should be vaccinated as step one in what could set off months of fraught decisions involving other key priority groups. But following those initial guidelines could prove difficult. 1000 (with trims) by Angelica LaVito. MOVED PHOTO ^Biden expected to usher in an era of worker-friendly labor policies< ^WRK-BIDEN-LABOR-POLICY:TB—<Labor activists eager to capitalize on the pro-worker sentiment fueled by the pandemic will soon have a friend in the White House. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to push to make it easier for workers to unionize and hold employers accountable for working conditions, a sharp U-turn from the business-friendly employment policies pursued by President Donald Trump. Among the most immediate changes will be new leadership at the National Labor Relations Board and Department of Labor, the latter of which is currently helmed by Eugene Scalia, a former corporate attorney who has been criticized by labor leaders for siding with industry over employees. 1600 by Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz. MOVED PHOTOS ^Retail workers fear for their safety: ‘An anxiety attack waiting to happen’< CORONAVIRUS-RETAIL-WORKERS:LA — Black Friday leaves Andrea Hernandez breathless. She’s worked the day after Thanksgiving at a mall shoe store in Los Angeles the last three years, spending her shift running back and forth, hauling sneakers from the stockroom to the waiting feet of customers — and trying to keep her cool when someone inevitably yells at her for disappearing too long. For retail workers, Black Friday is, as Hernandez puts it, the “most dreaded day of the year.” But this year, the day they hate has also become one they fear. With coronavirus infections rising across much of the United States, what is historically one of America’s busiest shopping days brings real risk. 1250 by Suhauna Hussain in Los Angeles. MOVED PHOTO ^OTHER BUSINESS NEWS< ^At James Bond studio MGM, questions mount about the company’s direction< ^HOLLYWOOD-MGM:LA—<After Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios’ exit from bankruptcy a decade ago, the storied film and television company made strides toward regaining its status as a Hollywood player.
  9. 9. But growing questions loom about the direction of the Beverly Hills-based studio with the roaring lion logo. The company, known for the Rocky and James Bond movies, has faced disagreement among investors over whether to sell, according to people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity out of fear of reprisals. 1600 by Ryan Faughnder and Anousha Sakoui. MOVED PHOTO ^India and Pakistan are clashing again. This time it’s about rice< INDIA-PAKISTAN-RICE:LA — Nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan have a new ingredient in their long-simmering rivalry: basmati rice. India has asked the European Union to recognize the fragrant, long-grain staple as originating in seven Indian states and territories, which would give its producers exclusive rights to the basmati label in the lucrative European market. Pakistan rejects India’s claim, arguing that its farmers grow basmati rice too, and is expected to file a formal objection with the EU by its Dec. 10 deadline. The tussle is just one of the many disputes entangling India and Pakistan, which were partitioned upon independence from Britain in 1947 and have fought three wars since. 850 by Shashank Bengali and Parth M.N. in Mumbai, India. (Moved as a world story.) MOVED PHOTO ^Black Friday still lures some shoppers, despite the pandemic < ^RETAIL-BLACK-FRIDAY:LA—<Crowds appeared smaller and lines seemed shorter, but shoppers still awoke early on Black Friday for deals and tradition. Retailers expected that 2020 would bring a subdued Black Friday, as coronavirus cases soar across the United States. Customers cautious about contracting the virus are expected to shop from home, accelerating the existing trend toward e-commerce. In parts of the country, public health rules now restrict stores from welcoming the hordes of customers that have defined the start of the holiday shopping season. But those concerns and restrictions did not deter some shoppers from getting an early start. 650 by Suhauna Hussain, Terry Castleman in Los Angeles. MOVED PHOTO ^Tesla suspension problems prompt NHTSA probe of 115,000 cars< ^AUTO-TESLA-NHTSA:BLO—<The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating whether faulty suspension parts on nearly 115,000 Tesla Inc. cars can result in damage to the tires. The agency said it received 43 complaints about 2015 through 2017 Tesla Model S and 2016 through 2017 Model X vehicles. 150 by Keith Laing. MOVED PHOTO ^Cargill makes another investment in fast-growing wellness sector< ^CARGILL-WELLNESS:MS—<Cargill Inc. is furthering its push into functional human and animal health with two investments aimed at gaining a leg up in this fast-growing wellness space. The Minnetonka, Minn.-based agribusiness announced last week a “significant investment” in a venture capital fund of Seventure Partners that focuses solely on cutting-edge companies in nutrition, digestive and immune health.
  10. 10. It’s the latest in a series of strategic investments or acquisitions in the health and wellness space that have been lumped together under Cargill’s newly formed health technologies business. 300 by Kristen Leigh Painter. MOVED PHOTO ^Delta cancels hundreds of flights over Thanksgiving holiday< ^DELTA-CANCELLATIONS:AT—<Delta Air Lines has canceled hundreds of flights over Thanksgiving, citing staffing problems during the holiday period. With air travel demand down by more than 50% amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Atlanta- based airline has cut its staff by thousands this year through buyouts and early retirements. Thousands more are on voluntary unpaid leave. Delta canceled nearly 300 flights on Thanksgiving Day and 160 more on Friday. 400 by Kelly Yamanouchi. MOVED PHOTO ^AUTO REVIEWS< ^Auto review: The 2021 Genesis G90 supplies what American automakers once delivered, but no longer do< ^AUTO-G90-REVIEW:MCT—<The G90′s distinctiveness is apparent from the moment your gaze falls upon the car. Its handsome lines are formal and sophisticated, with a distinctive shield grille and a dual horizontal lighting theme that distinguishes the car’s exterior appearance. Its overall demeanor is that of a responsible adult, a welcome relief from the childish excesses that plague modern car design. In fact, its modern, fresh appearance is so distinctive that it elicited a remarkable number of unsolicited inquiries from strangers — more so than many sports cars I’ve driven. Many asked if it was a Bentley. No, really. They did. Not bad for a car that competes with the finest luxury sedans in its class, while undercutting them by at least $12,000-$22,000. 800 by Larry Printz. MOVED PHOTOS ^Auto review: 2021 Lincoln Nautilus adds big screen, colors, connectivity for feature updates< ^AUTO-NAUTILUS-REVIEW:DE—<Lincoln’s Nautilus midsize luxury SUV gets a new interior and significant connectivity improvements when the 2021 model arrives in dealerships early next year. The Nautilus will also go into production then in China, a growing market for Lincoln. North American versions of the SUV will continue to come from the Oakville, Ontario, plant that’s always built the Nautilus and its predecessor, the MKX. The most immediately noticeable changes include luxurious new Black Label models and a 13.2- inch touch screen — biggest on any Lincoln — connected to the latest version of Ford’s Sync voice recognition and connectivity system. The 2021 Nautilus will also be able to receive over- the-air updates and new features, continually adding functions like your smartphone does. 550 by Mark Phelan. MOVED PHOTOS ^Auto review: It’s a bird, it’s a plane it’s the 702-horse Ram TRX supertruck< ^AUTO-RAM-TRX-REVIEW:DTN—<Flying at over 65 mph in a 2021 Ram 1500 TRX — four feet off the ground — is when you realize that there’s not much pickups can’t do anymore. Hold that image, and let me catch you up. The 702-horsepower TRX — pronounced T. rex — is the most powerful truck made.
  11. 11. But it’s much more than a rocket-sled. It’s like the recent crop of insane high-performance supercars I’ve tested — McLaren GT, Porsche 911 Turbo, Chevy Corvette C8 — that defy the laws of on-road physics while surrounding you in luxury. The TRX is an off-road weapon with the interior of a Bellagio Hotel suite. This remarkable versatility has made pickups the new halo vehicles for brands — as desirable as luxury performance cars. Call them supertrucks. 1150 by Henry Payne. MOVED PHOTO ^Auto review: 2021 Hyundai Venue offers less for less< ^AUTO-VENUE-REVIEW:PH—<Hyundai added the Venue to its lineup in 2020. Though like the Soul, it’s smaller, and no all-wheel-drive version is offered. It’s an attractive little box, looking like a kiddie-cart version of the Palisade. The Venue has a small-car “peppy” feel. It’s tuned to make a quick getaway from a standing start up to about 25 mph. After 25 mph, though, it becomes harder and harder to make the 1.6-liter engine keep up the momentum. But that peppiness is an illusion brought on by the Venue’s small dimensions and low-riding profile. The engine makes just 121 horsepower, and the Venue gets to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds, according to Motor Trend, so that bears out my impression. 800 by Scott Sturgis. MOVED PHOTOS ^DAILY MARKETS GRAPHIC < ^< Find here a daily Wall Street roundup graphic featuring Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq data. The 1-column x 4-inch graphic, Wall Street, will be posted by 6:30 p.m. EDT Monday through Friday. To find the graphic, visit the Graphics section of TribuneNewsService.com. Those with questions regarding the graphic should contact the graphics team at 312-222-4131 or tydavis@tribpub.com. ^COLUMNS< ^< These features regularly move on Thursday and Friday: ^Real estate Q&A: How can I get my ex’s name off deed of my home?< ^REAL-REALESTATE-QA:FL—<I was divorced a few years ago and was awarded the house. My ex-spouse never deeded me the property like he was supposed to, and I have no way to track him down. How can I get his name off my house? 450 by Gary M. Singer. MOVED ^Motormouth: Buy the maintenance plan?< ^AUTO-MOTORMOUTH-QA:MCT—<Q: Purchased a new 2020 Audi A4. Salesperson wanted me to buy a maintenance plan that would cover oil changes for four years. Can my local mechanic handle the changes? Is there a reason I would need to use the dealer? 600 by Bob Weber. MOVED PHOTO ^The Week Ahead: Looking at the share of long-term unemployment< ^WEEKAHEAD:MI—<The penultimate jobs report of the Trump Administration will be released on Friday. Any drop in the headline unemployment rate for November will be heralded
  12. 12. by the president as proof that the economy is healing. He will take credit where very little is due. Don’t be shocked if he uses it as an anvil to hammer imaginary threats of economic ruin with the incoming administration. Instead of focusing on the change of the monthly unemployment rate, millions of American workers are counting their time going without work by the month. The share of long-term unemployment has quadrupled since July. A third of officially out-of-work Americans in October had gone more than six months without a job. That’s the highest share of unemployment since the middle of 2014. 300 by Tom Hudson. MOVED PHOTO ^RECEIVE TNS BUSINESS BUDGETS BY EMAIL< You can now have the Tribune News Service business budget emailed to you each day. Just send an email request to zfinken@tribpub.com. If you want to add other recipients, or need a user ID and password for our website, please let us know. To unsubscribe from this group and to stop receiving emails from it, send an email to: tns- businessbjt-unsubscribe@tribpub.com. ^TCA VIDEO NETWORK< Tribune News Service distributes video of news, entertainment, business and sports stories. For help with a video, please contact our newsroom at 312-222-4196 or email tcavideo@tribpub.com. ^< Tribune News Service is available on our website, www.TribuneNewsService.com. Subscribers can access 30 days’ worth of budgets with clickable links to stories and art; stories searchable by subject and category with links to images; and an easy-to-search archive of more than 1 million items — stories, photos, graphics, illustrations, paginated pages and caricatures. Subscribers who now receive the News Service via AP DataFeature can also have access to these Internet features. To obtain a user ID and password, please call Rick DeChantal at Tribune Content Agency, 1-866-280-5210, Ext. 4544 or e-mail rdechantal@tribpub.com. Some new Web browsers and add-ons to existing Web browsers that are designed to block pop- up advertising may conflict with a la carte purchasing. For more information on this problem and how to prevent it, please visit www.TribuneNewsService.com/guide/use/blockpopups.php. News Service: tcanews@tribpub.com Photo Service: tcaphoto@tribpub.com ——— 2020, Tribune Content Agency https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/ap_news/business/bc-mct-business- bjt/article_20576901-c041-525b-af9f-65833394f706.html
  13. 13. Can India be part of Asia’s growth story without the RCEP – or China’s trust? A man prepares basmati rice during the Brahma Chorayasi festival in Ahmedabad, India. File photo: TNS Nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan have a new ingredient in their long-simmering rivalry: basmati rice. India has asked the European Union ( EU ) to recognise the fragrant, long-grain staple as originating in seven Indian states and territories, which would give its producers exclusive rights to the basmati label in the lucrative European market. Pakistan rejects India’s claim, arguing that its farmers grow basmati rice too, and is expected to file a formal objection with the EU by its December 10 deadline. The tussle is just one of the many disputes entangling India and Pakistan, which were partitioned upon independence from Britain in 1947 and have fought three wars since. At stake is not only a major export industry but also bragging rights over a mainstay of South Asian cooking – whether layered with onions and spices in hearty biryanis or fluffed with vegetables in delicate pulaos. A wholesale rice seller puts price tags for different varieties of rice at his shop in Bangalore, India. Photo: EPA
  14. 14. India’s 2018 application, which was published in an EU journal in September, asked the bloc to grant “geographical indication” (GI) status to its basmati rice. This would tag the product as inextricably connected to its place of origin – similar to Champagne from France, potatoes from Idaho, or Kalamata olives from Greece . GI labels often serve as a mark of quality and help exporters charge higher prices. SCMP Global Impact Newsletter By submitting, you consent to receiving marketing emails from SCMP. If you don't want these, tick here The designation would probably boost Indian basmati exports, which have plunged in Europe due to failure to meet the continent’s tough restrictions on pesticides. India sold US$4.3 billion worth of basmati overseas last year, three-quarters of it to the Middle East . Roughly US$180 million was sold to the United States , according to the All India Rice Exporters Assn. Although an EU designation would not apply in the American market, it could help lift the profile of basmati as an Indian product in the minds of global consumers. “If India gets the GI tag, it would make our basmati even more attractive in the international market,” said Rajeev Setia, joint managing director of Chaman Lal Setia, an Indian rice exporter in the northern state of Haryana. “Countries around the world are looking for authenticity.” Indian workers throw fine polished rice for final packing at a rice mill in Nalgonda District. Photo: AFP The government of Pakistan, whose basmati exports totalled US$582 million in 2018-19, second only to India, said last month that it would “vehemently oppose” India’s application.
  15. 15. Although India controls two-thirds of the global basmati market, competition between the nations has grown in recent years as Pakistan increases sales to Europe and Iran, India’s main customer. Indian suppliers have found it difficult to receive payments from Iran without running afoul of US and international sanctions against the Islamic Republic.News reports indicate that Pakistani traders have been able to set up new barter mechanisms with Iran, while Indians have struggled to quickly convert their old cash-based deals to barter. India and Pakistan maintain strained diplomatic relations, each accusing the other of fomenting insurgencies and launching attacks across their disputed border, while sharing countless threads of history, culture, language and cuisine. Among them is basmati rice. It is grown in the humid plains below the Himalayan foothills, in carbon-rich soil found on both sides of the frontier. Vietnam entrepreneur sets up free ‘rice ATM’ to feed the poor amid coronavirus lockdown Vietnam entrepreneur sets up free ‘rice ATM’ to feed the poor amid coronavirus lockdown One of the main growing regions is the territory long known as Punjab, which now encompasses an Indian state and a Pakistani province of the same name. “The cultivation of basmati predates partition,” Setia said. “So a part of Punjab, which is now in Pakistan, also cultivates basmati.” India’s application does not claim that it is the only country where basmati is grown. The government acknowledged in a separate legal case recently that “it is a well-known fact that basmati rice comes from India and Pakistan”. More than a decade ago, the two countries discussed jointly applying for geographical status for basmati rice. But the talks fell apart after the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which India blamed on Pakistan, and relations have scarcely improved.
  16. 16. Legal experts say that even without India claiming exclusivity, the EU could decide to grant geographical protection to “Indian basmati”, meaning that Pakistan could not market its product as basmati without its own designation. “Taking into consideration the significance of basmati for the two, Pakistan would most likely not let basmati GI go without putting up a fight,” according to a commentary on Spicy IP, an Indian blog on intellectual property issues. China can expect bumper 2020 harvest despite bad weather and floods, officials say Although basmati attracts a higher price on the global market than other varieties, Indian farmers are struggling, said Jagdeep Singh Aulakh, 36, who grows basmati on 20 acres of land in Haryana. The Indian government buys non-basmati varieties at fixed prices while leaving farmers to sell basmati on an open market prone to fluctuations, he said. Over the years, costs of fertilisers, pesticides and diesel have soared while incomes have not kept up. Basmati also grows well in other parts of the region where the water is saltier, he said, but farmers in his area are planting less of the crop despite the government’s intent to make it a part of the nation’s heritage. “Basmati performs well even when the land is not as fertile,” he said. “It has nothing to do with pride. Farmers will cultivate what is best for their survival.” Protesters at an anti-China demonstration in Kolkata earlier this year. Photo: AFP The decision of 15 Asian countries earlier this month to seal the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), heralding a major step forward for economic integration, has sparked a debate among diplomats and academics in India
  17. 17. about whether the country is being left out of Asia’s growth story because of its decision not to join the group. “India has been repeatedly missing the Asian bus, despite our desire to get on board,” Sanjaya Baru, an adviser to former prime minister Manmohan Singh, told The Hindu newspaper. He compared the current situation to the 1990s, when New Delhi decided not to join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) – another major trade group, comprising 21 member countries. China-India border dispute: are both sides breaking the deadlock? The decision not to join Apec slowed the pace of economic reforms in India and also made several of the group’s members wary of India, which they viewed as overly protective of domestic industries. Although the moratorium set by Apec on taking new members was lifted in 2010, and India has indicated a willingness to join, there has been no unanimity in the trade bloc to include India. The RCEP, which covers a third of the global population and a combined GDP of US$26.2 trillion, could have been significantly bigger if India – with 1.3 billion people and a GDP of about US$2.7 trillion – were a member. But it pulled out of the grouping last November after seven years of negotiations on the conditions for its membership, arguing its key concerns were not addressed. For example, India wanted stricter “rules of origin” to prevent cheap Chinese goods from flooding its domestic market and more safeguards for its agricultural industry. It was also unhappy with China’s reluctance to grant concessions as well as with other Asian countries’ attempts to put up non-tariff barriers. Mohan Kumar, a former Indian diplomat and current chairman of the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, a New Delhi-based think tank, said the concessions sought by India from China were in effect “safeguards” – provisions to allow the imposition of tariffs if there was a surge of goods from Beijing. Despite Japan’s attempt to broker a deal, it failed because of China’s reluctance to accept India’s terms. “We thought the issues [would] get resolved eventually, but it did not happen,” Kumar said. As Chinese imports boom, what happened to Modi’s ‘self-reliant’ India? 22 Nov 2020 But one major factor in the breakdown of negotiations was India’s growing distrust of China, fuelled by a months-long stand-off between the two countries at the Himalayan border that looks set to stretch into a brutal winter. Since both sides became locked in their worst dispute since 1962 over the unmarked 3,488km border, India has doubled down on efforts to strengthen domestic production and supply chains, and has also placed restrictions on Chinese imports and investments – measures that would go against the RCEP if India were a party to it.
  18. 18. According to India’s former commerce and industry minister, Anand Sharma, staying out of the RCEP was “a backward leap”. Sharma had initiated RCEP negotiations for India in 2012, and his disappointment indicates that in future, other countries will find it difficult to see India as a reliable trade partner. India’s reluctance to open its economy saw its growth rate fall behind other Asian economies between the 1960s and 1990s. Photo: Reuters Biswajit Dhar, professor of economic studies and planning at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, said the decision to withdraw became inevitable after the country’s crucial manufacturing, agricultural and dairy industries all came out against membership, although he added that India could have built a firewall between its economic and political engagements with China. “It may be difficult now as the popular sentiments have gone completely against China after the border skirmishes, but it is an option that must be explored to go forward,” he said. India’s leaders have sought to defend the decision not to join the RCEP, with external affairs minister S. Jaishankar saying at the Indian School of Business’ Deccan Dialogue last week that New Delhi had allowed subsidised products and unfair production advantages from abroad to prevail, without naming China. He said the effect of past trade agreements had “deindustrialised” some sectors in the country, but that as India pursued becoming a self-reliant economy it did not mean it was turning its back on the world. “What we will be deciding now is whether India will become a first-class industrial power,” Jaishankar said. But Congress party leader and former finance minister P. Chidambaram, who is now a member of parliament, said in a tweet that “Jaishankar’s views reflect the language spoken in the 1970s”. He was referring to an era when India’s reluctance to open its economy resulted in an average annual growth rate of just 3.5 per cent, while GDP growth of other Asian countries and regions – Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea – blossomed at an average rate of 7 per cent from the 1960s to 1990. India began its economic liberalisation in 1991 and in subsequent years averaged 8 per cent annual growth, benefiting from the free-trade agreements it signed with other countries. 03:29 RCEP: 15 Asia-Pacific countries sign world’s largest free-trade deal RCEP: 15 Asia-Pacific countries sign world’s largest free-trade deal “India remains relatively closed when compared to other major economies,” Prabhash Ranjan, a senior assistant professor of law at the South Asian University in New Delhi, argued in an opinion piece in The Hindu. According to Ranjan, India’s applied most favoured nation import tariffs are 13.8 per cent, the highest for any major economy. It also figures in the “very restrictive” category on the UN Conference on Trade and Development’s restrictiveness index. In addition, from 1995 to 2019 India initiated anti-dumping measures 972 times – the highest in the world – to protect its domestic industry. “By refusing to sign the RCEP, India is now truly in the margins of the regional and global economy,” Ranjan told This Week in Asia. “India’s offer to become a hub for the global supply chain as opposed to China will be severely affected, as any manufacturer who wishes to be part
  19. 19. of the supply chains that export to the 15 countries in the RCEP would like to base itself in a country that would enjoy preferential tariffs.” In the post-pandemic situation, ‘resilience and trust’ rather than value chains would become more important Mohan Kumar, former Indian diplomat But Kumar, the former diplomat, is optimistic that India’s large domestic market will help it survive and substantially reduce the impact of not joining the RCEP. He pointed out that India has big export markets in the European Union , the United States and the Gulf, and that Delhi’s objective is to have free-trade agreements with each of them. “In the post-pandemic situation, ‘resilience and trust’ rather than value chains would become more important,” he said. Significantly, RCEP members have kept the door open for India to join if it so desires in the future. But with New Delhi not being part of any major trading arrangement that involves other major economies in Asia, where does this leave it now? “That will leave India out in the cold,” former Indian foreign secretary Shyam Saran said in an interview with The Hindu. He also cautioned: “There is this assumption that people have to come to India on our terms. But that, to my mind, is a fairly optimistic assessment.” https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3111098/can-india-be-part-asias-growth-story- without-rcep-or-chinas Vet Varsity Scientists bag “Best Presentation Award” in International Webinar KJ Staff 28 November, 2020 6:04 PM IST
  20. 20. Dr. Jasmine Kaur Dr. Jasmine Kaur, Associate Professor, Department of Animal Nutrition, College of Veterinary Science, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana participated in the 2-day International Webinar on “Climate Smart Livestock and Poultry Production through Nutritional Interventions”. The webinar was organized by Directorate of Centre for Animal Production Studies, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University. The research paper presented by Dr. Jasmine Kaur on “In vitro nutrient utilization and methane production potential of diets containing rice gluten meal” co-authored by Dr. Manpreet and Dr. J.S. Hundal bagged “Best Presentation Award” among the papers presented by renowned scientists from various institutes.
  21. 21. The focus of the research paper was rice gluten meal which is a starch industry byproduct. Its incorporation in the diet as a substitute of conventional protein sources has shown promising results in terms of reduced methane production. It is pertinent to mention that vet varsity is doing extensive work in developing nutritional interventions/strategies of methane mitigation from ruminants for clean meat and milk production. This will help to reduce emission of greenhouse gases from the livestock for sustainable animal production. Dr. A.P.S Sethi, Head, Department of Animal Nutrition congratulated the team for their hard work. https://krishijagran.com/agriculture-world/vet-varsity-scientists-bag-best-presentation-award-in- international-webinar/ Marriage halls, eateries closure: FPCCI wants decision in consultation with stakeholders OUR STAFF REPORT November 29, 2020 LAHORE-The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), raising voice against closure of marriage halls and restaurants, has warned the government of taking final decision after consultation with the stakeholders, who are creating millions of jobs in the country, as unilateral decision wouldn’t be accepted. FPCCI President Mian Anjum Nisar, while talking to a delegation of the restaurants and banquet halls association’s members, said that marriage halls and restaurants industry are also one of the essential food sectors and their closure will hit the overall economy of the country hard.
  22. 22. He appreciated Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision not to shut down factories and businesses despite a spike in coronavirus infections. The food industry contributes largely to the GDP, and its closure would directly affect 50-60 allied industries, including meat, poultry, rice, cooking oil, flour, fruits/vegetables, crockery, clothing, shoes, photography, wedding cards and jewelry, cosmetics, decoration, furniture, lighting and electronics. “The permission of outdoor gathering and wedding ceremonies is not a practicable idea as it is not possible in winter, he said and suggested to allow indoor activities in marriage halls and banquets in limited capacity with strict implementation of SOPs,” he argued. FPCCI, as an elected body of the trade and industry across Pakistan, also suggests the government to allow smooth running of the restaurants with at least 40 capacity, as this industry was affected heavily due to very late permission of reopening of restaurants during first wave of the pandemic. Mian Anjum Nisar said that the marriage halls and restaurants were adversely impacted by the lockdown and the consequent economic slowdown. He said that banquet halls industry has suffered a lot due to the previous lockdown and now they should be allowed to work with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and government should facilitate it. He said that State Bank of Pakistan had introduced a temporary Finance Scheme for the payment of salaries and wages of the workers but restaurants industry was not accommodated, as the central banks put extra restrictions for them to avail this facility. The FPCCI is ready to join hands with the government and defeat the second wave of coronavirus while strictly observing SOPs that primarily requires wearing face masks at public places, as we don’t want to lead people to death due to hunger, while saving them from coronavirus as per the vision of the PM. “We should understand that the country’s economy is now on a positive path of progress, as the first wave of coronavirus could have devastated Pakistan’s economy but the nation’s support helped it come out of the crisis, he said, adding that the world is still mired in worse economic situations coupled with increasing Covid-19 deaths. FPCCI President said the country’s exports were now increasing due to government’s sustained economic policies, which had helped Pakistan overcome its fiscal deficit and current account deficit from $20 billion trade gap of almost two years back. “FPCCI applauds the government achievement that for the first time in 17 years, Pakistan showed current account deficit in surplus, and this situation might reverse if the food sector, which is majorly run by the restaurants and marriage halls is closed,” he warned. He said that like other parts of the world, Pakistan was also hit by the second wave of Covid-19, but the country should not opt for a complete lockdown. He said Pakistan should only shut non- essential sectors as par the vision of the PM to save its poor people as well as economy from the severe consequences. With the high level of poverty and the lessons learnt from the first wave of Covid-19, we cannot afford the lockdown of businesses and factories, where people are employed. The government tackled the first wave of Covid-19 through effective measures and saved the people from economic effects, the same strategy should be adopted in second wave of corona. He said that after realizing the worst economic impact of complete lockdown, the government adopted the strategy of ‘smart lockdown’ on hot spots and quickly opened the construction sector, followed by other businesses, to save the poor and daily-wage earners from hunger, which was a right decision and FPCCI appreciates it.
  23. 23. https://nation.com.pk/29-Nov-2020/marriage-halls-eateries-closure-fpcci-wants-decision-in- consultation-with-stakeholders DA allots P8.5 B to enable typhoon-affected farmers, fishers recover, start anew By DAPublished on November 28, 2020 QUEZON CITY, Nov. 28 -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) has initially disbursed and distributed P8.5-billion worth of various interventions to enable farmers and fisherfolk to recover from the ravages left by a series of typhoons that hit Luzon in October and November. “On behalf of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, we will continue to provide our typhoon and flood-affected farmers and fisherfolk in Luzon and other areas with immediate and much-needed assistance to tide them over and start anew,” said Agriculture Secretary William Dar. “The DA family sincerely commiserates with thousands of our countrymen who were displaced and whose livelihood were adversely affected. Our assistance and interventions may not be enough, but we will extend all the possible help to handhold them until they are back on their feet, and farm and fish again so they can ably provide adequate food and incomes for their families,” added Secretary Dar. DA Undersecretary for Operations Ariel Cayanan said the interventions comprise of: quality seeds of inbred and hybrid rice, corn and vegetables; cassava seed pieces; fertilizers; farm machinery and equipment; ready-to-lay chicken, ducks, quails, goats, native pigs, and other
  24. 24. livestock animals; animal feeds, veterinary drugs and biologics; fingerlings, fiberglass fishing boats; and postharvest equipment. Of the total P8.5-B assistance, the bulk was extended to farmers and fishers in Cagayan Valley and Bicol, the two hardest-hit regions, receiving P2.34 B and P1.07 B, respectively, in the form of various agri-fishery assistance and interventions. Other typhoon and flood-affected farmers and fishers in five regions also received the corresponding assistance: · Cordillera Administrative Region – P382 million (M); · Region 1 (Ilocos) – P313.8 M; · Region 3 (Central Luzon) – P281.5M · Region 4A (CALABARZON) – P736 M; and · Region 4B (MIMAROPA) – P914 M. Of the total DA assistance, Cayanan said the bulk was provided by the DA banner programs (rice, corn, and high-value crops) worth P4.06 B, followed by food and cash aid (P1.33 B), quick response fund (P641.82 M), DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (P670 M), P800-M emergency and livelihood loans from the DA’s Agricultural Credit Policy Council, and P1-B insurance payments from the DA’s Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC). The total damage on the country’s agri-fishery sector due to the seven successive typhoons (from Nika, Ofel, Pepito, Quinta, Rolly, Siony, and Ulysses) in October and November has to date reached P12.8 B. The biggest impact in terms of production value was due to typhoons Rolly, Ulysses, and Quinta that recorded P5.79-B, P4.18-B, and P2.66-B worth of losses, respectively. The damage could have been more massive had it not for the early DA advisories, as instructed by secretary Dar, that enabled farmers and fishers on the path of the typhoons to harvest their crops and fishery products. As a result, more than P32-B worth of rice, corn, vegetables and fruit crops, and aquaculture species were saved. For rice, some 1.94 million metric tons worth P30.1 B from 445,376 hectares were spared, while corn farmers were able to save 161,824 MT worth P1.98 B. (DA) https://pia.gov.ph/press-releases/releases/1060391 DoST-PNRI hosts nuclear research conference Published November 28, 2020, 5:53 PM by Dhel Nazario More than 70 researches in the field of nuclear science will be highlighted at the 2nd Philippine Nuclear Research and Development Conference (PNRDC 2020) hosted by the
  25. 25. Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DoST-PNRI) with the theme “AmBisyong Nukleyar Tungo sa Maunlad na Pilipinas” from Dec. 8 to 10. PNRDC highlights the growing role of the atom in national development, such as the diverse applications of nuclear energy that respond to society’s pressing needs and the possible inclusion of nuclear power in the country’s energy mix. “Through the PNRDC, we aim to disseminate the latest advancements of national and international trends in nuclear R&D, impacts, and policies to the public,” Dr. Angel Bautista VII, PNRDC chairperson, said. “The PNRDC will likewise provide a forum for nuclear S&T and policy discourse among researchers and the general public,” he added. Bautista said that as of this writing, the PNRDC 2020 already has in list of participants some 237 authors with 53 affiliations from eight countries – Philippines, Korea, Thailand, Australia, Germany, Myanmar, Japan, and the USA. On the opening day, the conference will host a plenary session featuring the nuclear power program of the Philippines with speakers from the DoST-PNRI, Department of Energy, the Philippine Senate, and the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA. In the afternoon, an exciting career talk will have speakers from the Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, IAEA, and the DoST-PNRI. The next two days will feature oral and poster presentations of various researchers, with topics ranging from nuclear, radiation, and isotope studies on food, agriculture, health, education, policy, environment, theoretical and computational studies, nuclear engineering, radiation protection, nuclear waste management, radiation processing, and industry. Plenary sessions and selected oral presentations will be broadcast live via the PNRI FB page and will be available to the general public for free. All presentations can be also viewed via Zoom by registered participants. Interested individuals can register for free at https://bit.ly/PNRDC2020AttendeeReg. The PNRDC 2020 is partnering with the Mindanao Journal of Science and Technology (MJST) to give scientists and researchers who are presenting in the conference a chance to publish their works in a special issue of the MJST, which is an International Scientific Indexing-covered journal. The PNRDC 2020 is part of the DoST-PNRI’s 48th Atomic Energy Week (AEW) celebration, and will run online from Dec. 8 to 10 via online conferencing and social media platforms. The annual AEW celebration, as mandated under Presidential Proclamation No. 1211 issued in 1973, aims to generate awareness of the Filipino people on the beneficial uses of nuclear science and technology. https://mb.com.ph/2020/11/28/dost-pnri-hosts-nuclear-research-conference/ New way of cooking rice removes cancer-causing arsenic without losing key nutrients by Chris Melore SHEFFIELD, United Kingdom — Rice is eaten all over the world in all different ways. No matter if your rice is white or brown, it has one thing in common, and that’s arsenic. Now, researchers from the University of Sheffield say a new and simple way of cooking rice can
  26. 26. remove this cancer-causing substance while retaining the nutrients which make this food so good. A team from the school’s Institute for Sustainable Food discovered the “parboiling with absorption method” (PBA) can cut down over half the naturally occurring arsenic in brown rice and 74 percent in white rice. More importantly, this home-friendly kitchen hack saves the micronutrients rice contains. The PBA method first parboils rice in pre-boiled water for five minutes. The water is then drained and fresh water is poured into the pot. From there, the rice is cooked normally at lower heat until the water is all absorbed. Parboiling with absorption method. Click to enlarge. (Credit: University of Sheffield/Institute for Sustainable Food) Why is there arsenic in rice? The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies arsenic as a Group 1 carcinogen. Unfortunately, this water-soluble toxin seeps into rice because it grows in flooded fields unlike many other cereals. Researchers say exposure to arsenic can affect every organ in the human body. It can also result in skin lesions, cancer, diabetes, and lung diseases. The Sheffield team discovered in a previous study that half of the rice eaten in the United Kingdom exceeds the European Commission’s limits for arsenic in products consumed by babies and young children. Of 55 products they tested, 28 samples proved to be too dangerous per the commission’s recommendations. Researchers concluded that babies under the age of one must be restricted to a maximum of 20g per day of the 28 types over the limit. Rice tends to hold around 10 times more arsenic than other grains. The toxin usually sits in the outer layer of bran, which makes it more of a problem in brown rice. White rice, which is milled and polished, contains less arsenic but also has fewer nutrients due to the milling process. The new cooking process touted by the authors should give concerned consumers relief, particularly if their children eat higher amounts of rice. “For rice consumers, this is excellent news. There are genuine concerns amongst the population about eating rice due to arsenic. Previous studies have shown that cooking rice in excess water could remove arsenic but the problem is it also removes nutrients,” says lead author Dr. Manoj Menon in a university release. “Our aim was to optimize the method to remove arsenic while keeping maximum nutrients in the cooked rice. Our newly developed method, PBA, is easy and home-friendly so that everyone can use it. We don’t know the amount of arsenic in each packet rice we buy; even though brown rice
  27. 27. is nutritionally superior to white rice as our data shows, it contains more arsenic than white rice. With our new method we are able to significantly reduce the arsenic exposure while reducing the loss of key nutrients.” The study appears in journal Science of the Total Environment. https://www.studyfinds.org/new-way-cooking-rice-removes-arsenic/ Makati urges SMEs to tap LGU’s cash grant Published November 29, 2020, 6:00 AM by Chino S. Leyco The local government covering the country’s financial hub is urging business owners to tap its cash grant program that aims to help the local economy recover from the pandemic- induced downturn. In a statement, Makati Mayor Mar-len Abigail “Abby” Binay has urged business owners in the city to apply for up to P100,000 cash grant through the Makati Assistance and Support for Businesses (MASB) program ahead of the December 31 deadline. Binay said that over the past two weeks, around 5,000 applications have been received online via www.proudmakatizen.com and are being processed to provide funding for the salaries of workers and payments to suppliers. “The MASB Program aims to provide recovery funds to businesses, boost the local economy, and promote the employment of Makatizens, especially those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Binay said. She explained that only businesses operating in the city, including Makati-registered branches with head offices outside Makati, and those with a valid business permit for this year with no tax obligations, are qualified to apply for the program. The financial assistance will be released directly to registered and accredited Makati-based suppliers as payment for goods and services, as well as to employees for their salaries and allowances through drawdowns. Under the MASB orogram, qualified businesses will be entitled to grants ranging from P10,000 to P100,000, depending on the type of business and the number of Makatizens employed by the business. The guidelines define a “Makatizen” as any person at least 18 years of age who is a resident within the territory of Makati City or in city-run relocation areas in Calauan, Laguna and San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan. He or she must also be any of the following: a Makatizen Card holder, a beneficiary of the Makati Health Plus program (Yellow Card), or a registered voter in Makati. For small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with capital of P50,000 or less and 100 percent owned by a Makatizen, but with no Makatizen employee, they will get P10,000, while those not owned by a Makatizen but with one to two Makatizen employees will receive P10,000. On the other hand, SMEs that are 100 percent owned by a Makatizen with one to two employees will get P15,000 and those owned or not owned by a Makatizen with more than two Makatizen employees will receive P20,000.
  28. 28. All other SMEs and businesses that are 100 percent owned by a Makatizen with no Makatizen employee can get P15,000. Regardless of ownership, businesses with one to three Makatizen employees can receive P20,000; with four to six Makatizen employees, P40,000; with seven to nine Makatizen employees, P60,000; with 10 to 12 Makatizen employees, P80,000; and with more than 12 Makatizen employees, P100,000. According to Mayor Abby, there is no minimum period that the qualified business must be operating prior to the submission of the application for the P100,000 MASB Program. https://mb.com.ph/2020/11/29/makati-urges-smes-to-tap-lgus-cash-grant/ Makati urges SMEs to tap LGU’s cash grant Published November 29, 2020, 6:00 AM by Chino S. Leyco The local government covering the country’s financial hub is urging business owners to tap its cash grant program that aims to help the local economy recover from the pandemic- induced downturn. In a statement, Makati Mayor Mar-len Abigail “Abby” Binay has urged business owners in the city to apply for up to P100,000 cash grant through the Makati Assistance and Support for Businesses (MASB) program ahead of the December 31 deadline. Binay said that over the past two weeks, around 5,000 applications have been received online via www.proudmakatizen.com and are being processed to provide funding for the salaries of workers and payments to suppliers. “The MASB Program aims to provide recovery funds to businesses, boost the local economy, and promote the employment of Makatizens, especially those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Binay said. She explained that only businesses operating in the city, including Makati-registered branches with head offices outside Makati, and those with a valid business permit for this year with no tax obligations, are qualified to apply for the program. The financial assistance will be released directly to registered and accredited Makati-based suppliers as payment for goods and services, as well as to employees for their salaries and allowances through drawdowns. Under the MASB orogram, qualified businesses will be entitled to grants ranging from P10,000 to P100,000, depending on the type of business and the number of Makatizens employed by the business. The guidelines define a “Makatizen” as any person at least 18 years of age who is a resident within the territory of Makati City or in city-run relocation areas in Calauan, Laguna and San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan. He or she must also be any of the following: a Makatizen Card holder, a beneficiary of the Makati Health Plus program (Yellow Card), or a registered voter in Makati. For small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with capital of P50,000 or less and 100 percent owned by a Makatizen, but with no Makatizen employee, they will get P10,000, while those not owned by a Makatizen but with one to two Makatizen
  29. 29. employees will receive P10,000. On the other hand, SMEs that are 100 percent owned by a Makatizen with one to two employees will get P15,000 and those owned or not owned by a Makatizen with more than two Makatizen employees will receive P20,000. All other SMEs and businesses that are 100 percent owned by a Makatizen with no Makatizen employee can get P15,000. Regardless of ownership, businesses with one to three Makatizen employees can receive P20,000; with four to six Makatizen employees, P40,000; with seven to nine Makatizen employees, P60,000; with 10 to 12 Makatizen employees, P80,000; and with more than 12 Makatizen employees, P100,000. According to Mayor Abby, there is no minimum period that the qualified business must be operating prior to the submission of the application for the P100,000 MASB Program. https://mb.com.ph/2020/11/29/makati-urges-smes-to-tap-lgus-cash-grant/
  30. 30. WFH could heighten cyber security risks – experts November 29, 2020, 7:00 AM by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat The work-from-home (WFH) arrangement appeared to be the safest way for employees and businesses to continue operating during the pandemic, but it also exposes companies to heightened cyber security risks, studies showed. In a presentation at the virtual “Safeguarding your Online Presence in times of Pandemic”, Jefferson Erick Alindogan, director of Strategic Intelligence Business Profiles Inc., tackled work from home privacy and security challenges among companies during the pandemic. Alindogan noted that a home environment with not enough security provisions from the company and the employee could be a source of data breach. Alindogan cited a study by Fenwick which showed that 90 percent of American employees surveyed are now handling intellectual property, confidential and personal information in their homes. Also, 70 percent of survey respondents don’t receive any proper training or mandatory standard procedures when it comes to information security. Notably, 50 percent of respondents perceived the home working environment to be mildly and severely less secure, while 56 percent of Americans surveyed don’t have clear understanding or simply do not know on what steps to take in the event of a data breach/cyber attack.There is also a perception that getting home security controls or measures or support from their companies is getting expensive. Alindogan also corrected the notion that cyber security crimes only happen to large or multinational organizations. “When we talk about cyber threats or cyber crimes, they are not only limited to big companies or multinational organizations,” he warned at The IFSEC Philippines webinar. He cited the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report to emphasize that cyber criminals also attack small businesses. The study showed that 43 percent of breach victims were small businesses, and 34 percent of data breached involved internal actors. The same survey showed that 15 percent of companies found millions of files open to every employee. “Cyber attacks do not discriminate,” he emphasized. “Cyber criminals do not care whether or not you’re a man or a woman, child or an adult. Regardless of your class, or what not, cyber criminals are just there waiting for an opportunity for them to be able to take advantage.” This is no secret also that most of cyber crimes have to do with money. The study showed that 71 percent of breaches were financially motivated and 25 percent is due to espionage. The most common data targets are phone numbers and email accounts where scammers barrage data subjects with messages. The higher form of targeted data include complete name and photo or specific identifier and online credentials while the more serious kind of data targets are home/office address, government and medical information and bank/credit information. As the world gets wired up, cyber criminals are getting more sophisticated to steal personal data for financial gains. Thus, the need to strengthen controls, especially for WFH employees is critical.
  31. 31. Alindogan explained that WFH breaches happen when an employee works in an area at home that is not secure or accessible to other people, allowing others to get into and look into the work the employee is doing. For instance, he noted of home office setup with unobstructed windows and no access controls for people to get in. The lack of access controls, he said, could not prevent outsiders or family members from reaching some of your company information or documents. “The common office home setup may not appear a risk from a non-security perspective, but it could be vulnerable to cyber criminals,” he emphasized. This problem all stemmed from minimum employee supervision since most employees are actually operating within their houses or their residences where supervision is very minimal. Aside from that, there is also increasing low compliance to company security policies. Another reason Alindogan was looking into is that since most employees are working remotely, they’re working outside IP protection. “Basically they are on their own individually. They’re individualized when it comes to antivirus software’s firewall. Because of no IP security support, employees are also very vulnerable when it comes to cyber crime,” he pointed out. Another risk is relatively normal security and complacency, which caught many by surprise. He noted there were only minimum companies that were able to prepare, not only within their organization but also their employees. With the real threats from cyber criminals, Alindogan stressed the need for prevention and protection. He urged enterprises to establish dynamic and all encompassing security policies. This should take into consideration the company’s core values, security policies and issues, new capability and support, and company-employee collaboration. “A security system is like a tree. It should never stop from growing,” he concluded. https://mb.com.ph/2020/11/29/wfh-could-heighten-cyber-security-risks-experts/ Globe acquires cloud-based services provider November 29, 2020, 6:00 AM by Emmie V. Abadilla Globe Telecom Inc., one of the largest cloud users in the country, officially completed its acquisition of leading cloud managed services provider, Cascadeo. “Despite facing many challenges this year, we were determined to be recognized as the country’s chief cloud collaborator,” declared Peter Maquera, Senior Vice President for Globe Business. “The pandemic only emphasized how critical digitalization is, ” he added. “In order to survive, companies have to respond with transformed ways of thinking and operating.” “This propelled us to go all-in on our partnership with Cascadeo so we can prepare companies for a future that embraces the Cloud.” Globe Business, the enterprise arm of Globe Telecom, has been working closely with Cascadeo to help enterprises remain competitive in the evolving digital landscape. Aside from providing expertise in cloud-based products, Cascadeo also supports Globe through cloud managed services, enabling companies to leverage the Cloud’s agility, security, and scalability.
  32. 32. “During the quarantine, many companies had a difficult time adapting to the sudden shift to online services due to their reliance on outdated IT infrastructure and operations,” noted Jared Reimer, Founder of Cascadeo. “Our partnership with Globe allows us to showcase that the Cloud is more than just a virtual storage space. It’s an enabler of innovation, maintaining system uptime, and scaling digital resources to meet demand in whatever capacity.” Cascadeo, which continues to expand in North America, is a Premier Partner of Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. It is also an expert in Microsoft Azure, with Cloud Centers of Excellence in both the US and the Philippines. With the completion of its Cascadeo investment, Globe now has the highest level of professional and managed service capabilities for multi-cloud operations. This guarantees businesses that Globe holds extensive experience and knowledge in designing, architecting, building, migrating, and managing workloads and applications on the Cloud. https://mb.com.ph/2020/11/29/globe-acquires-cloud-based-services-provider/amp/ PH excludes farm products, cement from RCEP tariff cuts November 29, 2020, 6:00 AM by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat The Philippines has exempted most of the farm produce, including rice, and some industrial products such as cement and auto parts from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to shield these domestic industries from the impact of the mega trade deal that opens 98.1 percent of the country’s tariff lines to cheap imports. This was revealed by Trade and Industry Assistance Secretary Allan B. Gepty at that RCEP Virtual Presser where he assured local producers of continued protection especially for the agriculture sector from the impact of the mega fair trade deal that spans 15 countries. The Philippines has liberalized 98.1 percent of its tariff lines, mostly intermediate and capital goods. According to Gepty, aside from rice, some examples of excluded product from the agri sector are live swine, meat, potatoes, onion shallots, garlic, broccoli, cabbage, coffee beans, maize, and sugar. Some of the exempted industrial products are cement, lead acid batteries autoparts, Chemicals (hydrochloric acid, chlorine). This means that RCEP will not overlap with the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), which opens up rice importation by lifting the quantitative restriction in lieu of high tariff walls. But farmers, he said, will benefit from cheaper imported farm implements and inputs and cheap intermediate and capital goods to improve their production. He also cited a 2015 study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) which showed that manufacturing, construction, transport, machinery and agriculture would benefit from RCEP. Agriculture, he stressed, will benefit from RCEP because it can source and access cheaper farm implements and inputs.
  33. 33. The PIDS study also projected of 10 percent increase in the country’s exports in the RCEP countries, where 60 percent of the country’s imports are sourced from. UNCTAD also released a recent study that showed Philippines exports are expected to increase by at least 10 percent under RCEP. In addition, he said, RCEP is also aligned and complement the Philippines priority sectors such as auto and parts, electronics, chemicals, ship building, furniture, garments, shipbuilding, creative industry, agribusiness, construction, IT-business process management, transport and tourism among others. “If you have projects under these sectors, RCEP will further strengthen your initiatives,” he said stressing that the mega trade deal has also a chapter on small and medium enterprises. In addition, he said, RCEP will complement with the current programs of the government and integrates all bilateral free trade deals that Philippines have currently with other trading partners into one, which is RCEP. As a trading country, Gepty said RCEP will help Filipino producers access to cheaper sources of inputs in a faster, in a more convenient way and rules based trading system. But he stressed that what is important is for local producers to take advantage for the benefits that await them under the trade agreement. He urged local firms to avail of the services and programs being offered by the DTI to improve their competitiveness. He further said that RCEP has chapters on competition where everyone is treated equally. “RCEP will conduct business based on rules not on who is more powerful or more dominant,” he said as he corrected the long-held notion that RCEP is an initiative by China. He said that RCEP was initiated by ASEAN, not China. RCEP is considered as the largest free trade deal as it covers almost 30% of the population; 30% of GDP; and 28% of global trade. RCEP is considered as a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial FTA, and is expected to provide the much needed and timely boost for economic development not only for the Philippines but for the rest of the region and the world. With an open, fair, and rules-based trading system, RCEP will help restore business confidence and encourage more economic activities, particularly for MSMEs, investors, service providers, and professionals. For the Philippines, he said, RCEP will complement ongoing trade and investment reforms and initiatives for the resurgence of the country’s manufacturing sector, enhancement of our investment regime, strengthening of agriculture sector, and integration of its MSMEs into the Global Value Chain through market access provided in goods and services. https://mb.com.ph/2020/11/29/ph-excludes-farm-products-cement-from-rcep-tariff-cuts/ AI-driven drone revolutionizes rice farming; Bayer seeding demo shows November 29, 2020, 5:00 AM by MB Business
  34. 34. Artificial intelligence-driven drone has started revolutionizing Philippines’ rice farming n as Bayer Crop Science (BCS) completed a “drone seeding” demonstration in Paniqui, Tarlac that is significantly eliminating costly and time-consuming labor in rice planting. A technology demonstration completed by BCS in Brgy. Sampot last November 20 has shown the success of using drone to broadcast (‘sabog tanim’) rice seeds. Sabog tanim or direct seeding is a method of sowing rice seeds. Drone automates direct seeding The drone seeder is being received enthusiastically by Filipino farmers in Central Luzon as it substantially cuts labor and cost of direct seeding. The drone seed spreading service fee is being placed at only P3,000 per hectare for Bayer Arize farmer-customers. Labor cost for transplanting rice traditionally costs P11,000 to P13,000 per hectare. Instead of a whole day to do direct seeding in one hectare, drone seeding for the same area can be completed in only 30 minutes. Based on the conducted trial, seeding rate is 20 to 25 kilos of hybrid rice seeds per hectare, which is far less than the 40-50 kilos seeding rate in the manual sabog tanim, indicating effective seed distribution. “We are preparing farmers for a complete package of smart technology. We can now use the drones to support agriculture modernization. Other countries in Southeast Asia have started to use drones in farming, including Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Meanwhile, It’s already used extensively in China,” said Aaron Cano, BCS new business activation manager during the technology demonstration. “This is the future of farming. We are opening an opportunity for the youth to get interested in farming.” BCS has started setting up a “one-stop-shop” for farmers to bring a complete service of hardware, apps, and inputs—high yielding Arize hybrid rice seeds and crop protection products. “We’re developing that model right now—a complete service that goes beyong distribution of farm inputs. Down the road, we’ll also look at other hardware and applications that collect relevant data on climate, weather, and plant health to be provided regularly to farmers,” said Cano. New Hope Corp. (NHC) Founder/Director Anthony Tan said NHC, which distributes drones in the Philippines, has already been licensed by the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) to use drones for spraying application. However, approvals for specific crop protection products that can be applied using drones have yet to be realized. This is where
  35. 35. BCS is working to ensure regulatory compliance with FPA guidelines for priority products and crops. A sprayer, much as the broadcaster, is an attachment of the drone that enables farmers to conveniently spray pesticides or other granulated materials on their plants. Bayer holds technology demonstration on drone seeding in Paniqui, Tarlac. The Department of Agriculture (DA), particularly Region 3 under Director Crispulo G. Bautista, has already adopted a drone technology program. “We are scheduled to have a technology demonstration in mid-December in Candaba, Pampanga. We are also providing other venues for demo. Those who want to request us to hold demo in their place may just contact us,” said Shiela Hipolito DA Region 3 Rice Program Manager. Cano added that BCS is introducing a web-based app called Agrolink. Bayer Arize rice seeds users just have to sign up an account to access Agrolink. Through this integrated Smart Farming program, farmers are given points from purchases that they can acculmuate to get discounts and likely include the drone services. “All the data we’re going to get will be part of an integrated agriculture—a complete, integrated solution for smallholder farmers is what we’re aiming for to boost their yields and incomes,” said Cano. For now, Tan said the drone’s seed broadcasting service will initially be carried out in partnership with Bayer’s Arize seeds. “We’ve been successful in testing the technology with Bayer’s Arize rice seeds. We find comfort in this partnership since we have been testing this for two years,” Tan said.
  36. 36. “Any new technology goes through trial and error stage,” Tan added. “That is what the drone technology has hurdled under the partnership between NHC and BCS. The collaboration successfully proved that Arize hybrid seeds can be utilized efficiently using drones in certain soil types. First, farmers have to prepare Arize hybrid rice seeds by soaking in water for 12 to 18 hours with Gaucho seed treatment. Next, the seeds are incubated for 18 hours. Afterwards, the rice seeds are loaded on drones for aerial distribution and seeding. The seeds shouldn’t have shoots so it can freely be dropped to the soil by the drone. Seed treatment with Gaucho prevents birds and other pests like preying on the seeds for up to 30 days. The drone, registered with the Civil Aviation Authority of the PHilippines (CAAP), has a weight of 25 kilos and a rice seed loading capacity of 10 kilos. Drone pilots are also registered by CAAP. Good seeding has also been observed when land preparation has been done properly. For now, the introduction of the drone seeding service will be focused in Central Luzon, Philippines’ rice granary. “We want to put farmers at ease with the technology. A lot of farmers in Iloilo have been pressing us on the supply of the drones, but these have to be scheduled,” Tan said. While direct seeding has been known to be less productive than transplanting (producing seedling first then transferring these to permanent locations), transplanting is laborious, costlier, and takes a longer time to complete. “You can’t expect different results from doing the same thing. With drones, we do things very differently. First, the seeds should be quality seeds. The choice of farmer is to transplant hybrid seeds, but now, there’s a new hope with Bayer’s proposition on automated drone technology,” said Tan. Within just one day, 20 hectares may be planted with the seeds using drones versus 1 hectare if done manually. The drone distributes rice seeds aerially from an altitude of 2.5 meters at a speed of one meter per second. As a single drone would cost around P1 million which are out of reach for most farmers, NHC plans to provide the service at a reasonable fee for farmers within selected communities. The Tarlac government is also supporting the supply of drones to its farmers. “Rep. Charlie Cojuangco wants average rice yield of Tarlac farmers to increase to more than five tons per hectare. We just finished just one techno-demo first, and maybe we will add more techno demos to introduce the technology to farmers,” said Ar-ar Molic, Carlos O. Cojuangco Foundation project manager. November 29, 2020, 06:00 AM by Chino S. Leyco The local government covering the country’s financial hub is urging business owners to tap its cash grant program that aims to help the local economy recover from the pandemic- induced downturn. In a statement, Makati Mayor Mar-len Abigail “Abby” Binay has urged business owners in the city to apply for up to P100,000 cash grant through the Makati Assistance and Support for Businesses (MASB) program ahead of the December 31 deadline.
  37. 37. https://mb.com.ph/2020/11/29/ai-driven-drone-revolutionizes-rice-farming-bayer-seeding-demo- shows/ BIR, Customs to investigate rice importers 29, 2020, 5:00 AM by Chino S. Leyco The Department of Finance (DOF) directed the tax authorities to assist the Department of Agriculture (DA) in investigating the alleged use of cooperatives by private traders as dummies for rice imports. In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said he ordered the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs to uncover unscrupulous rice traders in the country. Dominguez issued the order following the DA’s decision to temporarily suspend the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs) to farmers’ cooperatives and irrigators’ associations (IAs) for commercial purposes. According to Finance Undersecretary Antonette Tionko, while cooperatives are not exempted from paying duties for importing rice, they can be exempted from paying the income tax on these imports if they are registered with the BIR as tax-exempt entities. “There’s this question now as to why traders are using coops to import rice …. Let’s look into that because they might be using the tax advantage on rice imports,” Dominguez, a former agriculture secretary, told BIR and Customs commissioners in a meeting. Agriculture Secretary William Dar issued Department’s Administrative Order (AO) No. 34 last month suspending the SPSICs to coops and IAs, effectively barring them from importing rice. The DA had received reports that these coops and IAs have resorted to rice imports rather than carry out their purpose of procuring local rice from farmers. Both the DOF and DA have also received reports that the SPSICs issued to cooperatives have been misused by traders to avoid legal responsibilities and evade the payment of the correct amount of import taxes. In his AO, Dar also directed the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to conduct an investigation, and consult with affected stakeholders, “to come up with new policies and rules to avoid circumvention of the laws and to protect not only the farmers and their cooperatives from exploitation and abuse but (also) the welfare of all Filipinos.” Senator Cynthia Villar has also filed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 536 calling for an inquiry into the possible abuse by rice traders of the SPSICs and other privileges enjoyed by cooperatives and associations. Meanwhile, Guerrero reported that collection from rice imports grew by 25 percent to P630 million in October from P505 million in the same month last year. This was the result of the volume of rice imports increasing by 17.5 percent from 84 million kilograms (kg) in October 2019 to 98 million kg in October 2020. Total import duties from rice collected from January to October 2020 now stand at P14.31 billion.
  38. 38. https://mb.com.ph/2020/11/29/bir-customs-to-investigate-rice-importers/ NFGCS, others lament impact of #EndSARS protest on rice industry ON NOVEMBER 29, 20207:21 AMIN AGRIC Kindly Call for security beef up at land borders to curb smuggling of commodity By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja Nigerians were baffled by the twist and turn of the #EndSARS protest across the country to fight against police brutality as it became violent affecting, the rice industry was attacked on all fronts, making operators count huge losses over looting and burning of their infrastructures. This made the Coordinator, Nigeria Farmers Group and Cooperative Society, NFGCS, Redson Tedheke, to express dismay and condemned the protest over looting and burning private warehouses after which investors have taken huge loans with high-interest rates to fund rice fields and pay workers in order to boost the rice value chain and make a profit to recoup their investments. According to Tedheke the looting and burning of warehouses under the guise of the protest and with the excuse of looking for COVID-19 palliatives stored and stocked in warehouses was really uncalled and condemned it. He said: “Every movement in Nigeria that is nationalistic and directed and targeted at the Nigerian nation is good. However, once it gets beyond improving the Nigerian nation it becomes a problem and that was what #EndSARS became at the later stage of the protest. READ ALSO: Gruesome murder of top Ondo traditional ruler against Yoruba tradition, custom – Ekiti Obas “We the Nigerian Farmers Group and Cooperative Society, NFGCS, are farmers, now a cooperative and a business employing over 500 Nigerians, sitting on a 3,500 hectare of farmland in Nasarawa State, paying over N5 million excess in salaries monthly and just coming out of COVID-19 did not need #EndSARS. “We needed it to stop the police from extorting us on the road. We did not need it to break into warehouses where Nigerians like us have suffered to produce and kept our goods in the warehouse. “Secondly, we also did not need it to open up borders and allow foreign imports to flood the Nigerian market, and what does that do because that in itself becomes another pandemic to Nigerian farmers. “In short it became an epidemic for farmers nationwide because a nation can only survive by what she is able to do locally, produces locally, revives her local industries and support, and I saw that in all of the challenges that faced every nation during the COVID-19 era she is able to generate, regrow based on her local capacity. “So when #EndSARS protest started looting, violence started, what simply happened was that some of us who are farmers who had produced and warehoused our produce, when it was time to sell it became difficult to sell because the land borders were overrun by bandits, criminals, those who did not believe in the Nigerian dream because every time you forcefully open the border and bring in imports-rice, pepper, tomatoes or whatever you think we can produce here, what you are bringing in is poverty, joblessness, hunger, banditry, kidnapping.” He decried abandonment of the land borders that currently affects local investors and said, “So for those days we felt we were doing something noble to be able to reform the police, EndSARS, and stop what they were doing that was wrong we inadvertently created another monster and that monster is joblessness because as far as there are imports
  39. 39. running in through our borders and in Lagos, what we have ended up doing we have created calamity for farmers in this country are going to live with for a very long time. So, #EndSRAS as noble as it was is a curse to the Nigerian farmers.” He also added that “So when you (youths) complain about joblessness, remember, you are part of those who succeeded in tearing our borders down and survival down, and you were a problem and not a solution.” Also speaking was the National President, Rice Millers Association of Nigeria, RIMAN, Peter Dama, lamented the negative impact of the #EndSARS protest on his members which their operations were stopped and supply chain to their customers disrupted. According to Dama the disruption led to a scarcity of rice in the distribution chain and an increase in the price of the products in the market as supply was disrupted and demand increased. He said: “The forceful opening of the borders led to the smuggling of rice into the country and Nigerians who have developed taste for foreign rice began to reject our locally produced rice for the smuggled ones. “In fact, some of our distributors began to reject our supplies under the guise that they already have enough stocks that are unsold. That in itself affected rice Millers as they were unable to recoup funds already invested in the produced rice given to distributors. It, therefore, affected their sales and profit margins.” The RIMA boss also expressed worry based on an alleged statement made by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, that soon the Federal Government will open land borders, which he said will tremendously impact the rice value chain. “At the moment Rice millers/ farmers and all those involved in the rice value chain in the country are worried over the rumour credited to the Minister of Finance that Nigerian borders will soon be reopened. “This will have a tremendous negative impact on our investments and government desire to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production. In short, it will amount to disaster and policy summersault. We advice strongly that government should not allow rice importation into Nigeria. “The current situation about production and sale of rice is that millers have increased their production capacities because of the festive season that is approaching and the new harvest of rice paddy that is presently ongoing in the rice-producing zones in the country. Sales will therefore pick up because of demand at this period. Prices of different brands will begin to go down as new rice paddy comes into the market hopefully.” However, he demanded that RIMAN should be compensated by the government following attacks on his members’ properties that were terribly damaged and looted. “In addition government should provide adequate security to rice milling factories across the country. It is also important that trucks conveying tonnes of milled rice for delivery to zones in the country be given special security cover and easy passages on our routes for delivery. “Government should not open borders and if they insist on reopening the borders rice should not be allowed into the country as it will destroy all investments done in the rice value chain in addition to our near attainment in rice production self-sufficiency. Meanwhile, he advised Nigerian youths to go for the dialogue option instead of violence that would make their future hopeless. “We advice that youths should always seek the path of dialogue instead of embarking on the protest that leads to destruction of lives, goods, properties and services. “Government should on its part listen to the youths and adhere to it is promises made for implementation of the demands of the youths. Efforts should be made to provide gainful employment for the youth’s and they youth’s should also respect constituted authorities. “Youth’s should avoid anti-social behaviours and try to proffer solutions to problems peacefully instead of taking up a path that hoodlums will capitalize on their good intentions to bring havoc on the society. The destruction of our commonwealth sets us back”, he stated. The situation the

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